Healthy but struggling, Cespedes sits Sunday

HOUSTON — As he assured Saturday night despite a mid-game elbow issue, Yoenis Cespedes is just fine. But he was given the day off, anyway, Sunday, amid struggles at the plate.

Cespedes is 0-for-9 with five strikeouts in the series, and he has just three hits total — two are home runs — spanning 23 at-bats during the first six games of the season.

“He’s just pulling off the ball a little bit,” manager Bob Melvin said Sunday morning. “Sometimes he tries to do a little too much and pulls off the ball some. He certainly doesn’t need to because he can hit the ball out of the ballpark anywhere, but sometimes a day off can distance you from that.”

Cespedes will actually get two days, with the A’s set to enjoy a scheduled off-day in Anaheim on Monday, though Melvin said he remains a pinch-hit option off the bench.

Naturally, there’s really no significant concern over Cespedes’ slow start. The slugger proved last year, while playing in the Majors for the first time, that making adjustments is something of a specialty of his.

“He not only adjusted game to game but during the middle of an at-bat,” Melvin said. “When he’s going good, he’s thinking that way all the time and able to make adjustments. He’s just off to a little bit of a slow start, but even so he’s had some instrumental hits that have helped us win games. We don’t worry about him too much.”

Cespedes hardly ever expresses such sentiments, either. On Saturday, he told reporters, “Don’t worry, I’m going to give you guys a lot of home runs this year.”

Upon hearing this Sunday morning, Melvin smiled.

“The one thing about him is that [his struggles] are never for a lack of confidence,” he said. “He’s never a guy that gets down and doubts himself. He just gets mad and sometimes frustrated but it’s not like he’s ever worried about who he is.”

With Cespedes out of action on Sunday, Melvin was able to get Seth Smith his first start in the outfield. He also plugged Chris Young into center field, allowing Coco Crisp a day to play the role of designated hitter.

“We want to keep Seth current in the outfield,” Melvin said. “We have a lot of moving parts, and at times it’s a serious benefit. Coco plays really hard and, at times, gets nicked up. We can combat those nagging injuries with the DH role.”

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